Turkish women fighting for top spots in male-dominated sectors – Financial Times

Despite an array of obstacles, more and more Turkish women are pushing for leadership positions in male-dominated sectors such as engineering and infrastructure, the Financial Times said.

Some positive changes are being made in the country and there have been efforts and optimism from women who currently hold positions of power, it said. 

Currently, Turkey has a higher percentage of women working in the scientific and engineering fields than Europe, according to Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News. However, the country still has a long way to go in terms of female participation, as it falls short on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) list. 

Turkey places also low on the list in terms of the number of women in seats on boards of large publicly listed companies, just eighth from the bottom, according to the OECD.

Some positive changes are being made, however, and there have been efforts and optimism from women who currently do have positions of power, said Financial Times. 

Chief executive at AGT Industry and Trade, Sevdim Yıldırım, told the Financial Times that her seniors were initially hesitant to give her said position, as they were worried that she might not be taken seriously as a woman. Taking the risk and appointing her, however, doubled production capacity and increased the number of export destinations. 

The article pointed to the example of  the chairwoman of infrastructure company, Ebru Özdemir who started a sponsorship program to help young women get their feet into the engineering field, especially in areas such as the construction field where women are generally more absent. 

According to Özdemir, the obligation of motherhood is the obstacle towards climbing the career ladder. She recognizes that she is very lucky to be able to afford childcare, which analysts say is the main reason women drop out of their careers. Özdemir said that she wants to make it easier for women to stay in the field. 

Founder of Istanbul-based fashion producer Suteks Group Nur Ger set up an organization called Yanındayız, which means "We’re with you." Yanındayız aims to bring men into the feminist movement, or in other words trying to change the problem of patriarchy from within. 

During Ger’s recent visit to Istanbul in a conservative neighbourhood, she witnessed two men taking care of their children: one feeding his baby and one playing with his daughter, while the mothers were apparently absent. 

“You couldn’t see that 20 years ago — not even 10 years ago,” Financial Times quotes her as saying, “The change is like the boiling of water. Until the boiling point you don’t see it. Then, suddenly, there is steam.”